A beginner’s guide to installing programs in Ubuntu

Installing applications, games, and such in Ubuntu is usually quite easy, thanks to thetips_n_tricks Synaptic Package Manager. However, if you’re using Ubuntu (and Linux) for the first time, you may find the typical installation procedure somewhat confusing, if you can even figure out what you need to do in the first place. This guide will help you learn how to use Synaptic and install programs.

Here’s how it works
First, you’ll probably want to ensure that you’ve enabled the Universe and Multiverse repositories in your sources.list. If you don’t know how to enable repositories, you can go here to learn.

After you’ve ensured that you have the Universe and Multiverse repositories enabled, go to System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager. Enter your password, if asked, and you should then find yourself staring at Synaptic, like this:


If you just altered your sources.list, click on ‘Reload’ at the top left of the screen to sync your repositories with the Package Manager. With Synaptic, you have thousands of free online software packages at your fingertips. For our example, we’ll say that you just visited the Linux Game Tome, browsed for a good new game, and you decided to install Globulation 2 because of its positive reviews.

To install the game, you will first click ‘Search’ at the top of the Package Manager. Because package names don’t necessarily match with program names, your best bet is usually to try a “Description and Name” search. So enter “Globulation 2” in the search field.


In this case, the package is named “glob2,” and you should see it appear in the upper right-hand portion of Synaptic. To install it, click the box next to the package name, then “Mark for Installation.”


To finalize the installation, click ‘Apply’ at the top of the Package Manager, then kick back and relax while Synaptic takes care of everything for you; it will install and configure the program, and if you’re lucky, it will also create an entry for you in your menu.

Hey, I installed something, but I can’t find it!
Globulation 2, as it turns out, does show up in your Games menu after you install (Applications->Games->Globulation 2). In most cases, packages will take care of creating menu entries for themselves. However, if a program doesn’t show up on its own, you can create a menu entry for it without much hassle.

So, if it doesn’t show up, here’s what you need to do: Go to Applications->Accessories->Alacarte Menu Editor. On the left side of Alacarte, click on the category in which you’d like to see your program. Then go to File->New Entry. Enter the program name (this name will show in your menu), a comment (this will appear when you hold your mouse over the new entry), and the command needed to start the program. The Globulation 2 entry looks like this:


The command is almost always the program name. You can test a command by entering it in the Terminal. In our example, we see that glob2, which was the package name, is the appropriate command. Finally, if you’d like an icon for your new menu entry, just click on ‘No Icon’ in Alacarte and select an icon from the available options. If you really want to be neurotic, you can hunt down a small icon for the program on the internet, or create your own, and save it to usr/share/pixmaps.

Digg this!



  1. […] Virus and spyware scans Viruses and spyware are quite rare in Linux. In fact, they’re so rare that many users don’t even bother to run an antivirus program, and I’ve yet to encounter an antispyware program for Linux. However, viruses are a point of contention in the Linux community; some believe that one can never be safe enough when dealing with viruses, and others figure that the risk is, more or less, negligible. That said, the choice to run an antivirus program, such as the popular ClamAV, is entirely up to you, and how much risk you’re willing to take. The risk is small, but present. ClamAV can be installed from the Synaptic Package Manager. […]

  2. melev said

    This is good stuff, I’m a Linux Beginner and It has been very helpfull, hope you’ll keep posting material.

  3. Alyson said

    Thank you so much, melev. I’m glad you find the information I’ve posted helpful; I intend to post more material once I have a break from school. Unfortunately, school largely dominates my life right now, as I’m aiming for entry into an at least respectable law school.

  4. Olivia said

    thanks a lot for this weblog! you’re making things a lot easier!

  5. Alyson said

    Thanks, Olivia! I’m glad you found this blog helpful!

  6. how to install application from downloaded file with synaptic package manajer?

  7. david parker said

    I installed WINE for some Windows programs I wanted to be available to all users on the computer. However, it seems to have only installed for the user logged in at the time. How do I make it public for all users?



  8. Alyson said

    Hi david,

    I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for you, as I’ve never used WINE, but have you tried asking for help at the fantastic Ubuntu Forums?

    Good luck!

  9. […] Source: Simply Ubuntu […]

  10. Julius said

    I have tried to install adobe cs and corel draw 9 from cd on ubuntu but it didnt work.
    plese help me on the required steps

  11. Shamim said

    I am new in Ubuntu. Although this page is little bit old, it is referred by ubuntu forum for beginners. In this page it is shown how one can find and add newly installed program which is not appeared in menu. I wonder that in my hardy installation there is no option “Alacarte Menu Editor” in the Accessories menu. Is that something I should install or it should be there by default?


  12. Alyson said

    Hi Shamim,

    I apologize for the outdated information. Alacarte Menu Editor doesn’t appear in the newer versions of Ubuntu. Instead, you may go to System->Preferences->Main Menu to add a new application to your menu. I hope this helps!

  13. gobuntu dunce said


    i downloaded firefox 3.01 onto my computer and i cant seem to make the synaptic application see where i downloaded the upgrade for the web browser.

    dunce needs help!


  14. xyz said

    I found this site on Google and this is AWESOME! Nice Job .

  15. CF said


  16. edgar said

    hi i have found linux to be fun but am having challenges.can some one help me locate a linux based wamp server?

  17. […] https://simplyubuntu.wordpress.com/2006/06/27/a-beginners-guide-to-installing-programs-in-ubuntu/ […]

  18. Hi there.
    Great installation help…thanks, fixed my problem.
    Anyone reading this guys stuff should bookmark it.

  19. papaben25 said

    I ask my son that uses linux in his profession. He talks so quick I can never get how to install tgz programs that I have downloaded. I save it to my desktop and when I use the apt-get install it cannot find it and I am in the Desktop on the terminal. I do not understand, please help.

  20. flashuac said

    Very interesting post! 🙂

  21. kirk said

    After trying an install of Ubuntu 11.04, I find that coming from ANY windows environment to 1980’s style command line rubbish not only taxing, but absolutely counter intuitive. To satisfy the “geek” in you, bravo. I’ll reluctantly purchase a copy of windows 7.

  22. […] and, for the most common desktop environments, the application is added to the menu. This article summarizes it nicely for Ubuntu. The other way to install software is by compiling it. You download the source code and run the […]

  23. Rudra said

    Not Use full

  24. Thank you for any other informative site. Where else could I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal
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    out for such information.

  25. […] For more info see Installing Software, or A beginners guide to installing programs in Ubuntu […]

  26. MADMAN said

    Am shifting from windows and i have found this blog helpful. Thanks

  27. SAiful Hafij said

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